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Washington State Looks at Its Creative Economy

November 13, 2009 by Joshua Wright

Earlier this year EMSI worked with the Western States Arts Foundation (WESTAF) in analyzing its creative occupation cluster. The analysis helped determine the 30 occupations that make up the cluster and are part of the formula for the Creative Vitality Index. (You can read more about that work here.)

The CVI is the basis for the updated “Creative Vitality in Washington State” report, released by the Washington State Arts Commission. Some of the findings include:

  • The state of Washington has a Creative Vitality Index of 1.32, compared to the national baseline score of 1.00.
  • The most concentrated CVI score came in King County (home to Seattle), which registered a 2.51 for 2007.

The index has two weighted components — participation rates in the arts (60%) and arts-related employment (40%). Participation is broken down into seven indicators, ranging from income of nonprofit arts organizations to movie theater attendance to per capita museum and art gallery revenue.

In terms of employment, the CVI has 15 primary creative occupations (e.g., Actors, Architects, Photographers) and 15 secondary creative occupations (e.g., Librarians, Video Editors, Sound Technicians).

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

With this Index we’ve learned a few things about Washington: Spokane has more architects now than in 2004. Bookstores and record stores in Washington perform above the national average. Motion picture attendance statewide has declined for four years in a row.

In the years ahead, we will continue to calculate the Creative Vitality Index with annual progress reports. The Index will help us understand the context of artistic and creative enterprises, educate the community at large about the creative economy, and inform public policy decision-making about trends and related issues. We’ll also be focusing in on some stories that illustrate the creative economy in action and make these numbers come to life.

For more information on analyzing your regional creative economy, email Josh Wright or call 866.999.3674.

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